We had this problem with our seven-year-old triplets. Their dad was out of town with his job for the first three years of their life and now again for the past two years. He's gone from home four days a week and when he's in town, he stays at the office getting caught up, including during the weekends. He feels so guilty about missing their school plays, field trips, soccer games, etc., that he finds it very difficult to say no about anything. I asked him to at least tell the kids to talk to me first because I had their schedules. When the problem continued, I asked him exactly what they were telling him to make him feel so compelled to say yes. He said that they tell him that I've already agreed but to also check with him. From that point on, I asked him to always confirm with me before telling them that they can do something. Within three weeks, they began to understand the process. It took a little patience on our part, but it worked. - V. J. in Tucson, AZ
From Jodie: Kids can get pretty creative when it comes to pitting one parent against the other to get what they want. Despite their young age, most 10-year-olds have already become unusually good at manipulating their parents, grandparents and other relatives, especially if everyone's schedule is chaotic. This holds even truer if one of them travels and/or works out of town. Tell your husband that you know how much he loves his daughter but you suspect that he also feels guilty for being gone so much and this is why he always gives into her requests. Explain that continually saying yes to everything kids want is not a good habit to fall into and it will only cause problems the older that they get. Basically, it's teaching them how to stretch the truth to get what they want. As they become teenagers, they'll be armed with enough emotional ammunition to know what to say when, and to whom, to get the "right" response. Let him know that his job is what it is and that it's not a bad thing, but merely another part of your life together; he doesn't have to feel guilty about it. Ask for suggestions on how to best handle the current dilemma. Listen carefully and then also throw out the following idea to get his thoughts: tell him to call you into the room, or on the phone if you're not home, to verify everything that she has said before saying yes. She will soon learn the new rule that permission will not be given for anything unless both of you agree. Respect and peace will hopefully soon return in your home.
CAN YOU HELP?
- My 11-year-old son is too old for daycare and too young to stay at home while I work. He's right on the brink of still being a kid but yet yearning to be a teenager. Summers are particularly stressful for both of us. Does anyone have any solutions that work during this pre-teen age?
- With everyone talking about going "green," preserving our natural resources, etc., our family has made a special effort to begin recycling things we had normally thrown away. Last week, after my 4-year-old daughter asked me why one of our neighbors did not recycle, I made an off-the-wall comment about them being lazy and she repeated it verbatim to the mom. She won't even look my way and I'm terribly embarrassed. I need help with this one, as I really don't know what to do or say.
- I was shocked to learn that our 11-year-old daughter was sleeping with her sixth grade boyfriend. Our family counselor has offered some suggestions that neither my husband, nor I, agrees in doing. For example, we do not want to put her on birth control, but we certainly do not want her to have a baby either. Please help.
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